Research questions

Here I’ve listed a few of the questions we’re interested in, working on, and have worked on, split by theme.

Infectious disease transmissioncropped-cropped-dsc_0775-1.jpg

Click on the photo above for more details about my work on this topic, or see the papers listed below each question.

How do within-host processes affect between-host transmission?

  • J. F. Stephenson, K. A. Young, J. Fox, J. Jokela, J. Cable, S. E. Perkins. 2017. Host heterogeneity affects both parasite transmission to and fitness on subsequent hosts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 372: 20160093. doi:10.1098/rstb.2016.0093 pdf.

How do hosts balance the benefits of group living with the risks of disease transmission?

  • J. F. Stephenson, S. E. Perkins, J. Cable. 2018. Transmission risk predicts avoidance of infectious conspecifics in Trinidadian guppies. Journal of Animal Ecology. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12885 pdf.
  • J. F. Stephenson, 2019. Parasite-induced behavioural plasticity depends on sex and susceptibility. Biology Letters. 15: doi:10.1098/rsbl.2019.0557 pdf.

How does host sensory ecology affect infectious disease avoidance behaviour?

  • J. F. Stephenson, M. Reynolds. 2016. Imprinting can cause a maladaptive preference for contagious conspecifics. Biology Letters 12: 20160020. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2016.0020 pdf.

What factors are important in determining whether parasites transmit or not?

  • J. F. Stephenson. 2012. The chemical cues of male sea lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis encourage others to move between host Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Journal of Fish Biology 81 (3), 1118-1123. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03347.x pdf.

Natural enemy ecologycropped-cropped-p10701901.jpg

Click on the photo above for more details about my work on this topic, or see the papers listed below each question.

How do the adaptations prey make to avoid predation affect how they interact with their parasites?

  • J. F. Stephenson, C. van Oosterhout, R. S. Mohammed, J. Cable. 2015. Parasites of Trinidadian guppies: evidence for sex- and age-specific trait-mediated indirect effects of predators. Ecology 96 (2): 489–498. doi:10.1890/14-0495.1 pdf.
  • J. F. Stephenson, C. van Oosterhout, J. Cable. 2015. Pace of life, predators and parasites: predator-induced life-history evolution in Trinidadian guppies predicts decrease in parasite tolerance. Biology Letters 11: 20150806. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0806 pdf.

How does parasitism affect predator-prey interactions?

  • J. F. Stephenson, C. Kinsella*, J. Cable, C. van Oosterhout. 2016. A further cost for the sicker sex? Evidence for male-biased parasite-induced vulnerability to predation. Ecology and Evolution 6 (8): 2506-2515. doi:10.1002/ece3.2049 pdf.
  • J. Cable, G. A. Archard, R. S. Mohammed, M. McMullan, J. F. Stephenson, H. Hansen, C. van Oosterhout. 2013. Can parasites use predators to spread between primary hosts? Parasitology 140 (9): 1138-1143. doi:10.1017/S003118201300067X pdf.

Evolutionary parasitologycropped-dsc_06951.jpg

Is a male’s colour pattern or symmetry really an honest signal of his ability to defend against parasites?

  • J. F. Stephenson, M. Stevens, J. Troscianko, J. Jokela. in press. The size, symmetry and colour saturation of a male guppy’s ornaments forecast his resistance to parasites. American Naturalist.

Sensory ecology


 Does what a fish smells affect how it responds to what it sees?

  • J. F. Stephenson. 2016. Keeping eyes peeled: guppies exposed to chemical alarm cue are more responsive to ambiguous visual cues. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 70: 575-584. doi:10.1007/s00265-016-2076-4 pdf.
  • J. F. Stephenson, K. E. Whitlock, J. C. Partridge. 2012. Food and conspecific chemical cues modify the visual behavior of zebrafish,Danio rerio. Zebrafish 9 (2), 68-73. doi:10.1089/zeb.2012.0734. pdf.

Why do zebrafish sometimes prefer the light, and other times prefer the dark (in an important behavioural assay)?

  • J. F. Stephenson, J. C. Partridge, K. E. Whitlock. 2011. Zebrafish preference for light or dark is dependent on ambient light levels and olfactory stimulation. Zebrafish 8 (1), 17-22. doi:10.1089/zeb.2010.0671. pdf.